Balloons are familiar and loved objects, but few people realize that with some amateur kitchen chemistry techniques, the process for manufacturing them can be replicated on a small scale. Product designers Caroline Linder, Lisa Smith, Michael Savona, Thomas Moran, and Steven Haulenbeek—all members of design collective Object Design League—aimed to demystify and illustrate each step of this process with their Balloon Factory on-site at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago from July 5th through 10th. Freshly-made balloons were available in limited numbers from the MCA Store for the duration of the event.

"Balloon Factory" functions as a workspace and spectacle at once. Through it, the Object Design League explores methods of producing objects for consumption in a direct way, collapsing fabrication, distribution and purchasing into one space. The designers are replicating a hidden manufacturing process, but more importantly, taking ownership of it. By making a product by hand that is only known to be made industrially, they locate their practice on the fringes of mass production.

In September, the Object Design League will be launcing an online store based on some of these principles at o-d-l.co.

"Balloon Factory" is part of "We Are Here: Art and Design Out of Context," curated by MCA Design Director James Goggin with MCA designer Alfredo Ruiz. Other participants throughout the month of July include Golden Age, Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth, and Sonnenzimmer. Details here: mcachicago.org/exhibitions/exh_detail.php?id=286

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